The other day, my husband was giving the kids a pep talk about mornings. You see, he is awake, ready and out the door before the rest of us wake up. I handle the mornings with the kids (and I still hate my mornings). They are never easy mornings. Londo does everything he can to help without being there, including trying to get the kids to listen to me when I tell them to get ready. During this particular pep talk, he said something that included "so mommy doesn't..." And I piped in "...cry every morning!"
The kids looked a little startled at that, and Londo quickly said, "Mommy is just joking." But later in the day, I let Londo, then the Pumpkin and then the Pookie know that I WAS NOT JOKING! Their behavior has made me get angry and yell and/or (usually and) get upset and cry every. single. school. morning. for the last 3 or 4 weeks. Not. Joking.
Over the years, I've tried so many different ways of dealing with the mornings. I used to try to be fun and race the kids! (They always won, after all I have a lot more to do to get ready.) I have tried charts listed what they have to do. I have tried cajoling, threatening, being sweet, being mean, calmly talking through what is needed, getting everything ready for them, being logical, being methodical, being firm, being easy, being silly, letting my frustration show, yelling, letting them do it on their own, praising their efforts... OMG, everything I could think of!
I even had a whole discussion about how I wasn't the enemy, but rather I was their ally in getting ready in the morning. They HAD to get ready and go to school, and I was the one helping them not forcing them to get ready! That one worked for a little while, but eventually, they became difficult again.
Look, I remember how hard it was to get up in the mornings and go to school. It's STILL hard for me, especially in winters with my SAD. But I have to go to work, so I get up and get ready for the day. The kids have to go to school, so they need to get up and get ready for the day. It just has to be done.
So why do they fight me every step of the way?
My daughter gives me saucy attitude, if she even responds to me. My son is contrary about everything and then says mean things. I start off so nice! I really do! I sit on their beds and speak gently about getting up and what the weather is going to be like. Then I insist a little more firmly that they get up, at least start by sitting up. I remind them that we want to have a good morning, right? So they need to get up and get ready nicely. I give them a little time, while I go back to my room to get dressed or put on makeup. I come back and speak even more firmly about how they need to get up. That I don't want to have another bad morning. So don't wait until I'm yelling, but just start moving now.
At this point, I'm usually getting to the end of my patience. And at this point, they are still sassing me. The Pookie is saying that I'm so mean or something like that. Recently, the Pumpkin has started to just shriek in response to me. No words, just a shriek.
That's when I start yelling. Why oh why must they wait until I'm yelling to do what they are supposed to do?!? I try so hard to get them moving and doing the right thing before I start yelling. But inevitably I end up yelling. Usually, this is when the Pookie at least starts doing what he's supposed to, but depending on what kind of mood he's in, he may throw a little tantrum while doing it. The Pumpkin, however, continues to give me attitude and shrieks. Shrieks! What is up with that?
I get so frustrated, so sick of having to push them, remind them, stay on top of them, fight with them, yell at them. After all, what do they need to every morning that is worth this hassle? Get up, get dressed, use the potty and brush their teeth. That is all. I do EVERYTHING else for them, or at least help them with everything else. And yet, they bitch and moan about the very little that they have to do!
And it's this point, 10 to 20 minutes since first waking them up, that I start to cry.
Once I start crying, the Pumpkin feels bad and tries to do the right thing, usually even apologizing. The Pookie definitely turns his behavior around. But I don't want to be in tears for them to realize that they are behaving badly and treating me poorly. I don't want to go through this every morning!
They treat me like crap in the mornings. They are rude, mean and disrespectful. And I keep coming back for more. If they were anyone but my own children, I would have left them! I'm not one to stick around for any abuse! But it's my own children, and I can't leave them. I understand that it's hard for them--they don't do well with transitions nor do they do well at focusing or getting tasks completed without a gazillion reminders. But the emotional upheavals every morning aren't good for anyone!
So I let them know that they are treating me poorly every morning, and that I will keep helping them, but that they really are treating me poorly. Something has got to change, and soon. Since they are still going to have to go to school on time, something else is going to have to change. Hopefully I'll figure out what soon. At least I know I'm not alone in this frustration that is parenthood.